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Monday, April 26, 2010

Gender Analysis of Shakespeare's "The Tempest"

There is a clear divide between genders within The Tempest. This is most evident in the relationship between Miranda and her father Prospero. Towards the beginning of the play, Prospero has a conversation with Miranda regarding how they came to the island and how Prospero once reigned over Milan. Throughout their conversation, however, Prospero exercises his control over Miranda when Ariel, an airy male spirit, appears. To ensure that he may speak with Ariel alone, he puts Miranda in a deep sleep in order to cease her from asking more questions. Given that Miranda is the only female (besides a few spirits that appear within the middle of the play), it appears that there is a certain type of patriarchy present. Here, the men decide all of the actions that occur within the play: Prospero decides to shipwreck Alonso and his court, Ariel carries out all of Prospero's demands, Caliban joins forces with Stefano and Trinculo to try and gain power over Prospero, Prospero plans the union of Miranda and Ferdinand, etc. Miranda, the lone female, has her fate decided by her father and is put to sleep when he feels that she doesn't need to hear anymore information. This, because of how the "society" is empowering men and demonstrating the domination of women throughout the entire play, shows how a patriarchy is established through the relationship between Miranda and Prospero.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps it is just the portrayal in this particular play, but Ariel seems to be an androgynous figure. A middle-sex character that both has power yet is the prisoner of Prospero. It could be that Ariel represents an aspect of each sex. The manipulative power he possesses and wields are tied closely with patriarchal dominance. His submissiveness and vulnerability to Propero's own powers of manipulation could reflect the society of women that Shakespear is trying to depict.